Downtown Muskegon Then

Western & First in 1927

The intersection of Western Avenue and First Street in 1927. On the left is the Hackley Bank Building and in the distance is St. Mary's Catholic Church.


Downtown Muskegon grew in the shadow of the lumber industry at the beginning of the 20th century. During this period of growth classic buildings were built, a few of which still remain today. As the lumber industry declined manufacturing stepped up to become the economic force of the downtown. By the time of WWII, a number of major factories were located downtown including Campbell, Wyant, and Cannon who forged metal goods, Continental Motors, and the Amazon Knitting Mill.

A decline in manufacturing led the downtown to change focus and in the mid 1970s a covered, urban mall was built to anchor the new direction. While the mall was recently torn down, commitment to improvement of the downtown has always been strong. In 1995 city voters approved a 16 million dollar bond which went towards costs associated with renovating both the L.C. Walker arena and the historic Frauenthal Theater. More recent developments have been the reclaiming of Heritage Landing site and its rebirth as a public park and open air performance venue, the retrofitting of the Breneman-Hartshorn window shade and Amazon textile factories into usable, yet historically authentic buildings, and the establishment of the Edison Landing Smart Zone, which has already attracted several education and research developments.

With many current projects currently on the go, the future of downtown Muskegon looks bright as the city builds on its historic past and its unswerving commitment to vital, vibrant downtown.


  • Joseph Beyrle, only soldier to have served in both the US Army and the Soviet Army in World War II
  • John Beyrle, son of Joseph Beyrle, appointed as United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation on May 13, 2008, confirmed July 3, 2008.
  • David Leestma, astronaut
  • Captain Jonathan Walker, "The Man With Branded Hand", abolitionist
  • Nancy Anne Fleming, Miss America 1961
  • Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Miss America 1965
  • Harry Morgan, Actor in popular M*A*S*H television series.
  • Frank Stanton, past president of CBS
  • Mark Grimmette, American luger
  • Earl Morrall, former NFL quarterback
  • Edmund Szoka, Roman Catholic Cardinal and former President of the Governorate of Vatican City State
  • Richard Versalle, opera singer
  • Gwenneth Bean, opera singer
  • Iggy Pop, punk singer
  • Carly Jibson, broadway (Hairspray)
  • Rocky Marquette Actor know for roles in Shallow Ground and Mortuary
                                       Pure Michigan Business Connect
  • RMPC  
  • Waddell & Reed  
  • United Way of the Lakeshore  
  • Sidock Group, Inc.  
  • Parmenter O'Toole  
  • Shoreline Inn  
  • Lakeshore Museum Center